Reaching the ‘Summit’

Agricultural journalism students win prizes in 11 categories

A group of science and agricultural journalism students from MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources received awards at a national agriculture communications competition. The National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow’s Critique and Contest was hosted in Scottsdale, Arizona, a few weeks ago, as part of the Agricultural Media Summit. The winners, all members and former members of the Mizzou Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow executive board, were recognized for their achievements in 11 categories.

Courtney LeeperCourtney Leeper

“It’s becoming more and more important for agriculture to have a voice, and it’s important for those who are knowledgeable in agriculture to step up and be that voice, and that is a lot of what the members of ACT will end up going on and doing,” said former MU ACT president and award winner Courtney Leeper.

Students attended NACT sessions as well as professional sessions at the largest conference of agriculture media professionals in the nation. The conference allows students to network with each other, as well as professionals in communications departments, marketing firms and agricultural publications.

“Just through their efforts in communicating about agriculture and the food system as students, they’re already helping to inform the public of the complexity of the issues and the importance to society,” said Sharon Wood-Turley, MU ACT adviser and program chair of the science and agricultural journalism program.

“Of course, I’m very proud of them. It’s exciting to see them be recognized nationally for the great work that they’ve done here as students in the science and ag journalism program,” Wood-Turley said.

Receiving recognition

Leeper, an alumna of MU’s science and agricultural journalism program, won the NACT’s overall award for Excellence in Writing, as well as first place in the Single Blog Post, Short Profile and Long Profile. She also placed second in the Short Feature category, and third in Research Story and Long Feature. Leeper is now a writer and copy editor at The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, a nonprofit organization located in Ardmore, Oklahoma, that aims to enhance agricultural productivity.

Current ACT president Natalie Helms, a senior, received first place awards in the Research Story and Short Feature categories. She also placed second for a News Story and Short Video package, and fourth for Long Video package.

“Every year I went back, it was another re-fueling time of ‘Yes, this is what I want to do.’”
―Courtney Leeper

Joshua Booth, a senior and ACT vice president, placed first in News Story and fourth in Editorial.

Also in the Editorial category, recruitment co-chairs senior Erin Boedeker and sophomore Lindsey Robinson won second and third place, respectively.

“The science and agricultural journalism program and my involvement in ACT helped me grow as a professional, helped me to realize that this is the field that I wanted to be in,” Leeper said. She remembers sitting in a session about writing long-form stories about people in agriculture and realizing she was where she wanted to be.

“Every year I went back, it was another refueling time of ‘Yes, this is what I want to do. Yes, these are the people that I want to work alongside.’ So that did have an important, personal, impact on me.”